Which fats are healthy? Do you know what the best fats and oils are for your kitchen? This is a topic that can be a bit controversial in today’s world. It’s so confusing: the fats and oils I grew up with are not necessarily that good for us. I have changed the fats and oils I use in my kitchen in the last 10 years. In doing so, I went back to more traditional cooking methods, because some of our modern products turn out not to be healthy for us.
What I Used to Use
I grew up in that time when saturated fat was declared the worst thing you could consume. It isn’t, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Products like margarine came on the market as a “healthier” and cheaper alternative to butter. I also grew up using corn oil and vegetable oil.
It turns out that none of these fats are really good for you. Margarine is full of trans fat. All of them are highly processed oils – including canola oil. Their claim to fame is that they are low in saturated fat and higher in polyunsaturated fat. However, when you look at traditional diets, they had a mixture of fats. Which makes sense because we actually need them all. Even cholesterol. We also need a balance of the Omega fats and most of the processed oils contain high quantities of Omega-6 but no Omega-3. For more information on this topic, you can read my series: Facts on Fats.
Fats & Oils In My House
Today, I use the following in my cooking: Butter from grass-fed milk, cold-press extra virgin olive oil, and bacon grease. I also have toasted sesame oil that I like to use for the flavor it adds to certain dishes. That is all that I use. All of them are minimally processed.Which fats are healthy? Which ones are bad? #WhatsCookingWithBarbara Click To Tweet
The fact is that goods fats include a mixture of saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and even cholesterol. We need them all. And no naturally occurring fats or oils are all one type! Olive oil, for example, is primarily monounsaturated fats, but it is 13.5% saturated fat.
What About Coconut Oil?
I know that coconut oil is all the rage. It is a primarily saturated fat, but since it is plant-based it contains no cholesterol. I don’t use coconut oil because I’m allergic to coconut. And that means all things coconut. Sad right? I love coconut, but it doesn’t really like me. I used to get sick every Christmas when I traveled to visit my sister and her family. I thought I just didn’t travel well. Until the year I stayed home for Christmas and still got sick. That’s when I determined it was the coconut in one of the delicious cookies she made. I liked them so much I made them myself that year that I didn’t visit her.
Coconut oil has health benefits, though I suspect it’s best used in moderation unless you live in a tropical climate, where it grows naturally. I’m a HUGE fan of eating locally and I’m convinced I am that eating locally grown foods is better for us. It’s kind of nature’s plan, if you want to know the truth. Does that mean no coconut at all? For me it does, because of the allergy thing. For everyone else, I believe it’s best to have it only occasionally, unless you live in a tropical climate.
Which Fats Are Healthy – Summing It Up
The biggest factor when looking at fats and oils is your source. And consume them all in moderation! The only bad fats are the highly processed oils and those fats that contain any trans fat, aka partially hydrogenated fats.
My personal philosophy, when it comes to food, is we should go back to how food was processed and transported prior to the industrial revolution. Going back to what your grandmother ate doesn’t work anymore. Our problems with foods, and especially fats and oils, started around the time some of today’s grandmothers were born.
For more information than you might actually want, read my facts on fats series. It breaks down the types of fat and the benefits of each type.
Tell us in the comments: What fats do you use? Have you changed what you use?